As we embark on the Road to Wrestlemania, let’s look back on one of the best shows to lead into a Wrestlemania. It was No Way Out 2000, the end of the road (for a few weeks at least) for the legendary Mick Foley.
The primary rivalry going into this show was Cactus Jack battling Triple H for the WWF Championship. Mankind was humiliated and fired by the McMahon-Helmsley Regime after losing a “Pinkslip on a Pole” match to The Rock in December. Foley got his job back only after Rock and the entire roster threatened to walk out. Subsequently, Triple H brutalized Mankind and challenged him to a match for the WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble. In a classic segment, Mankind said he wasn’t ready to fight for the championship…but Cactus Jack was.
Triple H outlasted Cactus in a classic Street Fight at the Royal Rumble. Subsequently, Cactus demanded a rematch at No Way Out. Triple H accepted, on the condition that there be none of Cactus’s “sadistic toys.” Given that condition, Cactus threw down the challenge: Hell in a Cell. But there was another catch: Mick Foley’s career would be on the line. He was either going to Wrestlemania or going home.
In the opening of this show, Mick Foley cuts one of the best damn promos I’ve ever heard. Sadly the video isn’t online, so I’ll just quote it:
“It will be soon, but not tonight (I’m not quite ready!). Though my nights are sleepless, I still dream. I’ve won and lost many things in my career (championships, blood). But I’ve never main evented Wrestlemania. This is my chance (my last chance!). In my way, there is a man and that man has my gold (my ticket to Wrestlemania). He may be the game, he may be the champion, he may be the best in the industry today (I should know). But he is no Cactus Jack (and he never will be!). 15 years I’ve been chasing this dream. Dozens of fractures. Hundreds of stitches. Countless nights I’ve bled. You might say ‘this is no dream, this is a nightmare!” And that may be so. But it’s my nightmare. And I decide when I wake up!”
Fucking chills. Every time. Let’s get it on.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are our hosts tonight.
Intercontinental Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kurt Angle
Chyna is in Jericho’s corner because this is during their awkward alliance. Angle is the reigning European Champion after defeating Val Venis on a Smackdown.
These two never really meshed the way you’d hope, but this match is pretty decent nonetheless. Angle gets a cheap win in ten minutes after hitting Jericho in the face with the IC Title belt during a Lionsault attempt.
Rating: *¾. Not as good as I’d hoped, but a respectable opener. Crowd was really hot for this.
We go backstage to hear from the Dudley Boyz. They’re wearing their camo gear, but Bubba is still doing the super heavy southern accent.
Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz
Quick match here, as Billy Gunn was suffering from a shoulder injury that would keep him out for about six months. Road Dogg spends most of the match getting worked over, which is typical. Billy comes in behind the referee’s back with a FameAsser, but gets smacked in the arm with a lead pipe by Bubba. The Dudleyz follow up with a 3D on Road Dogg to win the tag titles in just over five minutes.
Rating: *. Kept short, which was probably for the best with Billy injured.
Mark Henry vs. Viscera
Why? This is during Mark Heny’s sexual chocolate run. Shortly after this show would be the infamous angle where Mae Young gave birth to a hand. In the run up to this Viscera attacked Mae and hit her with a Splash. And so we suffer through this match.
Henry wins with a Body Slam in just under four minutes. Nothing really happened.
Rating: ¼*. At least it was short.
#1 Contender’s Match: The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian
This is Terri’s return to managing the Hardyz after she had missed time due to being put through a table by The Dudleyz. Terri really never fit as manager for The Hardyz. Punk dudes with sex kitten MILF. Weird combo.
Really good match here with both teams flying around. Edge and Christian are in control for most of the match as they get heat on Jeff. When Jeff makes the tag, Matt cleans house. Jeff goes to the top for the Swanton Bomb, but gets pushed off by Terri. Matt yells at her and gets hit with the Unprettier by Christian. That gives Edge and Christian the win in 15 minutes. Hell of a match here, too fast-paced to do play-by-by.
Rating: ***½. Really enjoyed that. These two teams really never had a bad match.
The Hardyz go after Terri after the match, but get knocked out by the Acolytes, who had been hired by Terri for protection.
Tazz vs. Big Boss Man
One month after Tazz’s debut and he’s already lost a lot of momentum. This match doesn’t help, as he gets drilled by Boss Man’s nightstick a minute in for the DQ victory. Bossman keeps hitting him, Tazz keeps getting up. They’re portraying him as a scrappy underdog, but that’s not what got Tazz over in ECW. He got over by killing everybody.
Rating: Dud. Quickly became apparent they had no real plans for Tazz.
No Holds Barred: Kane vs. X-Pac
Long-running feud here that started back in the fall. Kane lost a match to Big Show with the stipulation that his girlfriend Tori would have to spend the holidays with X-Pac if he lost. Tori returned and then revealed she and X-Pac had gotten together. Kane was shattered emotionally, then got his ass kicked by DX and committed to an asylum. He returned on Raw a few weeks later in one of my favorite moments from this era:
Paul fucking Bearer! Back for the first time in forever.
This is a wild brawl, as they fight all around ringside and through the crowd. Mostly Kane just kicks X-Pac’s ass. X-Pac manages to reverse the Tombstone into an X-Factor, but Kane kicks out. Kane hits the Chokeslam, and then Tombstones Tori. JR cheers this vile act on, which is a bit weird. Kane goes to get the ring steps, but X-Pac kicks them into his face and manages to get a shock pin at just under eight minutes.
Rating: **. Okay, but with an abrupt finish.
Rikishi and II Cool vs. Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn
Yes, The Radicalz are here. Another classic moment from this era (there were a lot of them around this time) was their debut, when they jumped the barricade and beat the shit out of the New Age Outlaws.
They subsequently had a series of matches on Smackdown that they had to win to get contracts with the WWF. They came up short, and ended up selling out and joining up with the McMahon-Helmsley Faction in order to get work. Eddie Guerrero is in the corner here, as he injured his elbow in his debut match.
Rikishi dominates early in the match. The Radicalz turn things around with some sneaky teamwork. I love watching these guys dissect people. They really brought a new level of technique and physicality to the roster. Rikishi eventually gets the hot tag and drills Saturn with the Rikishi Driver. He follows with a Rikishi Driver on Malenko to pick up the win for his team.
Rating: ***. II Cool and Rikishi are really underrated historically. Crazy over and could really go. A little weird that they had the Radicalz lose here, but I guess this was part of their initiation.
#1 Contender’s Match: Rock vs. Big Show
You probably remember that Rock won the 2000 Royal Rumble, but there was controversy. Big Show found video footage proving Rock’s feet hit the ground before Show’s did. So this match will determine who goes to Wrestlemania. Sort of a typical Attitude Era match here with brawling on the floor and such shenanigans.
Tim White and Earl Hebner get into it on the floor, which is fallout from a disagreement they had earlier in the IC TItle match. Rock goes for the People’s Elbow, but Shane McMahon comes out of nowhere to level him with a diving chair shot! Big Show follows with a Chokeslam and wins one of the biggest upsets ever in wrestling at just under ten minutes.
Rating: *½. Nothing special, but Shane’s return and Show winning were both all-time surprises.
Rock managed to get his way back into the Wrestlemania main event by putting his job on the line against Big Show. In yet another incredible moment, Vince McMahon made a surprise return, knocked out Shane and Triple H, and then counted the pin for Rock.
Kurt Angle is shown backstage still celebrating. Then Jericho and Chyna attack him and throw him in the trunk of a car.
Hell in a Cell for the WWF Championship: Triple H (c) vs. Cactus Jack
They’re going 100 miles per hour from the very beginning here. Weapons are used early and often. Triple H gets a chair and just wails on Cactus with it. But Cactus keeps getting back up. On the floor HHH goes for the Pedigree, but gets Catapulted into the cell wall and blades. Cactus throws the stairs at HHH, but misses and breaks open the cell wall. He then runs through the wall to get it all the way open, cutting up his arm in the process.
He beats Triple H down outside the cage and then Piledrives him on the announce table. Cactus tries to climb the Cell, but Stephanie stops him. Cactus pulls out his barbed wire bat, which causes HHH to climb the cage. Only place to go, I guess. Cactus follows him up, but gets thrown off the side of the cage by HHH! Much more controlled than his King of the Ring 1998 bump, but still dangerous.
Cactus gets up and climbs up the cage. He gets a piece of HHH and smashes him in the face with the barbed wire bat. Then he lights the bat on fire! He sets up to Piledrive HHH onto the burning bat, but gets Backdropped and the cage breaks. The ring is gimmicked to break his fall, but that’s still a big, big bump.
HHH goes to pin Cactus, but he fucking kicks out! A Pedigree finally puts Cactus away in 24 minutes.
Rating: ****½. One hell of a match. Great brawl, huge spots. Flowed much better than the King of the Ring 1998 match, and was much safer. Amazing way for Foley to go out. Too bad he came back three weeks later.
Foley gets a standing ovation from the crowd as he heads to the back for the “final” time.
Overall: Pretty tremendous show. Awesome main event, fun matches up and down the card. 2000 is really the year everything came together: hot production, great storylines, amazing wrestling matches. Best year a wrestling company has ever produced, in my opinion.